The First Time You Ride a Bus It’s Unfamiliar

By Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1 0

It feels like two lifetimes ago that we were in Spain for our survey trip. Since then, we’ve done cross-country trips, vacations, and had two babies. But the memories are imprinted on my mind, and today I was inspired to capture one in writing by my blogging friend, Deidra Riggs.

After our week of serving at the church plant in Madrid, Chris and I spent four days of vacation in the south of Spain – Sevilla and Granada. We tried to pack light for our short stint and left everything in Madrid for our return home except a few outfits and one pair of shoes. For me, a pair of high quality flip flops (ok and a pair of dressy shoes just in case). Our plan included train rides: high-speed to Sevilla and… not-so-high-speed to Granada and back to Madrid. The high-speed to Sevilla was distinctly European: on-time, air-conditioned, and fast. The train to Granada was none of those things. So it was with sore feet from trekking Sevilla in sandals and now sore bums from our Greyhound of a train-ride, we arrived in Granada for the last leg of our amazing trip. And we began to explore, on foot of course. Although we were enjoying Granada’s gelato, its Spanish food with Middle East flair, and the unmatched Alhambra, we were dreading our last, long day that was to end on another “train” ride north. We knew we’d be dead on our feet and our wallets, already checked out of our hotel with nowhere to be.

So we had a brilliant idea. We would take a trip back to the train station to book an earlier train. Eager to save money we didn’t plan to spend on a taxi, we decided to take a bus. Everyone in Granada was taking buses. We could too.

So we grabbed our city map and asked our hotelier to help us get to the train station by bus. We should have known a taxi would be easier by the look on his face, but he outlined the route with a red pen and wrote the bus number down.

We waited at the wrong stop, took the wrong bus which turned out to be the right bus, lost our confidence and got off way too early and walked the long way through the business district to get to the train station, where, in broken Spanish we exchanged our late night tickets – fingers crossed – for ones that left mid-morning the next day. And then we made our way back for a snack and a siesta.

In spite of weariness that set in somewhere between the wrong stop and the long walk, along the way I had looked in Chris’s face and seen our future and I liked what I saw.

Not two days earlier we’d been laying in the world’s squeakiest bed, debriefing after a whirlwind week in Madrid doing missionary work. Now we were making the transition from mission trip to vacation and so we had one thing to discuss: did we want to come back to do this work forever? And if our answers were different, what would the next four days look like? What would the next 40 years look like?

We did, unanimously, passionately, unequivocally. God had spoken to us in Madrid and He used the same words: “come back here. Do my work, build my church. It will be hard (he used a 16 year old mk who told us her parents worked so hard for so little return to remind us of this). It will be so hard; but I will be with you.”

So, standing in an unfamiliar bus in a strange country with a task to accomplish in an unfamiliar tongue, I looked at my husband and I saw many similar events in our future and I was ok with that. Weariness and confusion mix with excitement and passion and God is in it all.

Family Camp 2014

By Monday, July 7, 2014 0 0

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Thank you for your prayers as we prepared for and led children’s chapel at Camp Gilead’s Family Camp last week!

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We had a great time teaching children from (a very condensed version of) Adventures in the Story of Hope. For these high school leaders, this was a challenging endeavor. We had some bumps, but overall it went really well. Kids from 3 to 12, hyped up on sugar, fun activities and a serious lack of sleep makes for interesting chapel times, but they listened intently to our stories and played games enthusiastically. We were grateful for the opportunity, because this is exactly the type of thing we’ll be called upon to do in Spain.

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We are also full of praise because God gave us a two percent increase in our support!

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Segovian Aqueduct – 50 for 50 Fact 5

By Tuesday, January 14, 2014 0 0

Chris continues our 50 for 50 campaign with our 5th fact, about an ancient aqueduct. We want to express our thanks to those of you who have responded with partnership, emails, Facebook messages, etc during this campaign. Our team is growing. Would you be part of the 50 people at $50 (or any amount!) to help get to Field Prep Seminar this spring?

The ancient Roman Aqueduct of Segovia in Spain was built in the 1st century A.D. and still supplies water to the city.

This was a fact that I thought was pretty cool. Those of you who know me well are aware that I am not the handiest guy in the world. On the rare occasion that I end up taking care of a “do it yourself” project, it never seems to turn out the way I want it to. Something is usually crooked, too short, off center, flimsy or other such undesirable finished state. Nothing I have constructed will be around in 10 years, let along centuries from now. And certainly not in working order.

While the Segovian aqueduct is an impressive feat of engineering which shows that ancient peoples were certainly not stupid or less developed than we are today, it makes me think about something else as well. It was (and still is) very important to get water into a city. It shouldn’t be any wonder that cities and countries and governments go to such great expense and time to build things that provide reliable water access. I don’t know if the Romans expected their aqueduct to still be in use centuries later, but I’m sure that they expected it would be around for a good long time.

What this makes me think about is whether we are building (discipling) others in the same way. Barna Group research reveals 59% of Millennials (18-29 year olds) with a church background no longer attend church. We have heard from other sources that 85% of students stop attending church when they graduate from high school 85%! Certainly there is something we are not doing correctly as God’s church.

It is time we start coming to the throne of God and seeking answers from the author of Wisdom himself. And when he answers us, following his instruction to the letter. Being able to see a still working aqueduct is kind of cool. Seeing our children grow up to be adults who love, witness, teach, serve, and make disciples is beyond words. It is something that I’m sure we can only fully appreciate when we are finally in God’s presence.

In Spain, we hope to allow God to work through us to begin building aqueducts of His own. The best part is that God’s handiwork is eternal.

Do it all in love.

By Wednesday, August 7, 2013 0 0

Yesterday I shared a brief overview of EMC. Today I get a little more personal.

One of the poignant lessons for me was the reminder that we must be doing all things in love. I tried to keep that at the forefront of my mind as I soaked up the details of church planting strategy. Right now, 3,000 miles away and with our vision for Spain constantly on our hearts and tongues, that feels easy.

You know when love is not easy?

When your brain is about to explode with information and spiritual thoughts from a day’s worth of training but you can’t sit and discuss over coffee with your spouse because you have to pick up a sick, hungry toddler from the nursery, feed her at a restaurant and drain her energy before you all go to bed at the same time, which is too early for you, too late for her, in the same hotel room. When your very pregnant body is more tired than your brain and you still have to cuddle the toddler, who’s never spent so many hours away from you each day.

We found it difficult to connect, as a couple, while we were away at training. The enemy doesn’t have to work hard to create stress when your week of spiritual work is book-ended by five hour flights with a lively little girl who really only sleeps in her bed and likes to break crayons, not color with them. Did I mention the time change? How about the ER visit the morning we flew home?

But we prayed, we depended on God, we tried to set aside selfishness and be helpful to one another, and God answered our prayers. The time change meant Susanna slept in a little each morning. She napped on campus perfectly and adored her teachers, a local pastor and his wife plus some teens from their church and a fellow missionary. We found time with the Lord on our breaks, or in bed with the light of our smart phones. And we helped each other. I’d like to say, especially, that Chris helped me. I have been experiencing severe back pain and the week away was challenging.

And then when I returned I found this blog by Lisa-Jo Baker about real love, “When You Think Your Love Story is Boring.” What a love story we are so privileged to live!

If you prayed for us this week, please know that your prayers worked. We felt them. Susanna’s sleep, our training, surviving the week in the hotel, the finances… it all went according to God’s plan and we are so grateful for your faithfulness to us.

We often feel like slow, bumbling, unqualified, missionaries-in-training (-who-will-never-graduate). Your support is invaluable to us.

God Is In Portland, OR

By Thursday, August 30, 2012 0 0

Statistically, the church planters in Portland know it looks like God’s not there. While the city has as many old church buildings as a small town on the East Coast, many of them are empty. Or house movie theaters. Or restaurants.It is one of the least-churched cities in the country, and in my experience, a hostile place for a Christian.

As we drove out to visit a church near Multnomah Bible College last weekend, it sure looked like we were the only ones going to church.

But we know He’s there:

  • He revealed Himself when we were welcomed so enthusiastically at Wood Village Baptist Church.
  • He is at work in the life of my friend studying counseling at Multnomah who desires to allow God to use her circumstances to help others
  • His love is on display, especially for the loveless in Portland, through an amazing organization called Cupcake Girls, which I learned about from my former college roommate and our newest partner, Amy.
  • Speaking of Amy (and her boyfriend), His grace is sufficient for the wounded but surrendered souls in Portland, and I am humbled by their story.
  • He gives courage to my friends who are speaking out about abuse in Portland.
  • He is the Great Provider to some of the most amazing and talented teachers of my generation, who have been unable to find permanent positions (pray for Oregon’s education system!)
  • Finally, He blessed Portland with wonderful, generous and fun friends who should have stayed in Washington when they had their chance (just kidding, guys!), and we wish we could spend more time doing life with them.

God blessed us greatly by reminding us how He is working in the lives of our friends, by allowing us to speak into their lives and challenge them to engage in His work in Spain, and by showing us how He works in places the world calls hard to reach.